the next step

The next step for my husband and me is still largely unknown. I know different aspects of what it will look like, but many of the specifics are still veiled from us. As much as I like to have my ducks in a row and know what’s coming and when, God doesn’t always give me my wishes. And that’s okay — I’m content to walk this out, step by step, faith to faith.

I know I’m supposed to go back to school… because one Master’s degree isn’t enough for me. (?!) Weird but true, apparently. As the story goes, I was in an oral-final exam my first year of seminary and in the midst of this group reciting and talking to the professor, I was told that “when you do your doctoral dissertation, I want to be your advisor,” by the professor in question. 😕 I laughed (literally) aloud at him and said, “Oh no, this degree is IT. I’m done after this!”

God laughed at me. And then proceeded to tell my (then-future) husband that I would indeed go back to school at some point. And as my husband is wont to do, he liked to remind me of this prophecy and ask me when I was ready to go back. HA! He didn’t get it, but I *wasn’t* going back. Double HA!

Yeah. Who’s laughing now? 😉

Several weeks ago, I was out mowing the lawn, replete with iPod, roaring riding mower (we have over an acre to mow), and arguing with myself. Well, sort of. You see, we have this story to tell — one that shocks many Christians and makes them question our holiness and salvation and why we would talk about such “inappropriate things.” 😐 But here’s the point: what we share isn’t “inappropriate,” it’s just not for those who think so. Jesus didn’t come to those who aren’t in need of a doctor, He came to minister to the sick and hurting. And if your life is perfect and in no need of the type of healing we speak of, then we harbour no ill-will towards you. Bless God and move on, people. We’re here and telling our story to those who need and want to hear it and allowing God to work through us in the process.

So this story needs to come out and is, in some degree, on this blog. I’m happy to continue doing this, yet I know that there’s a portion of those who need this encouragement and help who aren’t online and/or don’t know how to search for it. That portion could be reached through a book of our story, but how do I do that? Sure, I can write, but the world is filled with people who think they can write and who flood publishers with stories, chapters, and proposals for books — none of which get more than a simple “thanks, but…” letter in return.

This is too urgent a message to mess around with opportunities and try to go fishing on my own. If we’re to be fishers of men, God has to direct us to a place to secure a boat and net that will haul in the largest amount of fish possible. I’m not about to build a rickety one myself and see if it’s sea-worthy.

Which leads me back to the argument on the mower. Technically, to do this ministry, I do not need another degree. I have an advanced degree and my undergraduate degree is in psychology and counseling with a second major in Biblical Studies. And in order to write, I need no more letters after my name. I’m sufficiently “pedigreed” to get the job done. But still… I’m having this dialog in my head. I finally realize that it’s not me, but that God is speaking and I’m arguing. I don’t know about you, but this tactic is *rarely* effective in my life. I never win these arguments and I generally waste breath and time trying to do just that. Okay, “Uncle!”

I approached my husband when I came in and said, “What would you say if I told you I think I’m supposed to go back to school?” He looked at me incredulously. His response was to the point: “If you’re actually considering this, then I’d say God is doing an amazing work in you, because you’ve done nothing but fight this for 15 years now.” 😯

There are aspects of this which would otherwise complicate the equation — I’m not single and carefree as I was when I chose which seminary to attend. I have a husband, a family, and a house to care for, and we’re not moving. But this isn’t outside of God’s power, either.

So fast forward a few months and I realize that I can’t get in to a program this fall (i.e., right now), but I can either shoot for winter 09 or fall 09, depending on the program. And I’m talking to a friend who works in this field and who knows people who might be able to help me with the writing and those details. I realize that although I’m frustrated with not starting back in classes NOW, I have up to a year to do something else to prepare (pay for?) my next degree. Hmmmm…. could it be?

Again, I don’t know what the answers are at this point. But I’m content to let God continue to heal us and walk one step at a time in health and healing. And more than anything, I’m not backing down. There are too many lives at stake. There are too many who want freedom but don’t know where to find it. And there are too many who are tormented by our Common Enemy to stay quiet.

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers recorded “I Won’t Back Down” in 1989 (on the “Full Moon Fever” album) and I resonate with a part of it fully:

“You can stand me up at the gates of Hell
No I won’t back down…”

In many ways, we are standing at the gates of Hell, but we’re proclaiming freedom to those who are held captive. And although I don’t know what the next step to take is (exactly), I know it’s God Who is directing our steps, and I’m content to put one foot in front of the other and walk it out. School? Writing? Public ministry of some sort? All of the above? Whatever it is, I’m good. Whatever door God opens next is the one we’ll walk through, even though there will be critics and those who think that we shouldn’t/wouldn’t and that God can’t.

But we won’t back down.

His and his,
~Cori.

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